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Loved and loathed modernist architecture to be celebrated

THEY are controversial buildings that have divided architectural and popular opinion. But the modernist structures of Scotland are to be celebrated in a national show at the world's biggest architecture festival.

derelict: St Peter's College in Cardross will be among the buildings studied at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
derelict: St Peter's College in Cardross will be among the buildings studied at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

The Edinburgh-based architects Reiach and Hall have been selected to represent Scotland at the Venice Architecture Biennale this year, and their £50,000 show will seek to re-examine and champion the modernist buildings of the 1950s and 1960s.
Modernist "masterpieces" in Scotland will be the focus of the show in Venice this October, with specific buildings chosen from Edinburgh and the east, the Borders, Glasgow and the Highlands and Islands by four separate panels of experts assembled by the award-winning architectural practice.
Buildings such as the A-listed Gala Fairydean stadium in Galashiels from 1963, designed by Peter Womersley, and St Peter's Seminary in Cardross, designed by Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, will be studied in the show. Others to be featured include the many buildings, especially churches, designed by Alan Reiach, and the University of Dundee tower by Robert Matthew.
Reiach and Hall's team will be based in the UK pavilion at the prestigious festival's Giardini Gardens for a month-long residency, and a show and presentations will also be based in another "intimate" site in the canal city during the month.
The architecture Biennale is perhaps not as well known as the city's contemporary art Biennale, but the last staging of the event attracted 100,000 visitors.
Neil Gillespie, director of Reiach and Hall, said the optimism and creativity of Scottish new buildings from the 1950s to the 1960s would be at the heart of the study.
"We will be looking from historical perspective and in a positive way at that period,"
he said.
"Certainly buildings from that period get a difficult press - the stories about the Red Road flats and so on don't really help that - but we hope to explain and examine the real optimism of that period.
"It is easy sometimes to look at these buildings now and say, 'well, that didn't work' but at the time it was part of a real desire to start fresh after the world war, and the sheer quality and talent of that period is worth examining."
Reiach and Hall was selected from a shortlist of six by an independent panel drawn from architects, local authorities and Historic Scotland.
The show is being supported by the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland and the
British Council.
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "Reiach and Hall's examination of Scotland's modernist heritage will be a fascinating showcase of Scotland's rich architectural heritage, and I am delighted that the Scottish Government is supporting this.  
"This heritage was an important part of the vision for post-war change in Scotland and is a valuable record of not only our architectural history but of developing technologies and social and cultural attitudes.
"Our presence at the Venice Biennale emphasises the importance both of what we can learn from abroad and what Scotland can offer internationally."
Lloyd Anderson, of British Council Scotland, said:  "Through this commission we anticipate a highly innovative, research-centred approach to showcasing Scottish architectural practice; one that will challenge and delight audiences."

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